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Liikanen promises EU support to SMEs

Erkki Liikanen, the European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, told SMEs that their interests are at the heart of the Commission's enterprise policy, during a concerted action seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 17 January 2000.

The event was organised t...
Erkki Liikanen, the European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, told SMEs that their interests are at the heart of the Commission's enterprise policy, during a concerted action seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 17 January 2000.

The event was organised to outline the support services available to European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them face the challenges of globalisation. The seminar is part of a series of concerted action events, which aim to understand the situation of growing enterprises, and work out how public authorities can help them. It is also an opportunity to share experiences and provide examples of best practice.

'Learning from each other, adopting each others' best practices with a view to improving existing support measures, these are ways that across Europe we can build truly professional support services for enterprises with the highest possible standards of quality,' said Mr Liikanen.

The Commission's commitment to SMEs was strengthened through the reorganisation of the Enterprise Directorate-General which came into effect on 1 January, with a Directorate focused on the promotion of entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Within this structure the Commission is working on ways to create better support structures for business and SMEs. A new multiannual programme in favour of SMEs is currently in preparation, and networking between businesses is being encouraged through Europartenariat events, one of which will take place in Aalborg, Denmark, on 8 and 9 June 2000. The concerted action events are another method of establishing 'a methodology' of helping SMEs.

The single market and now the single currency have made access to the European market easier for SMEs, but Mr Liikanen said the challenges of globalisation mean businesses should look beyond the European marketplace.

'For some [enterprises] it means new possibilities for outward expansion and growth. For the majority, however, globalisation is an inward process that brings with it competitive challenges and threats. Some are able to adapt and become internationally competitive. Others are at risk and unlikely to survive in their present form without improving quality, cost competitiveness and management practices.

'For several years, the Commission has systematically proposed and carried out a policy of support to SMEs wishing to access markets in other countries. This policy seeks to provide added value to the European dimension in supporting SMEs on global markets, instead of only on the European market.'
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